Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Collegium defers decision on elevation of Justice KM Joseph to Supreme Court

SC  ST rights review case to come up on Thursday in Supreme Court Collegium defers decision on elevation of Justice KM Joseph to Supreme Court
Judith Alexander | 03 May, 2018, 15:55

A decision in this regard was taken following a meeting of all the five member-judges of the SC Collegium, including Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, this afternoon.

At least three names, along with that of Justice Joseph, are likely to be cleared at the next collegium meeting, the sources said.

An official said since other names were also on the agenda of the meeting, modalities were to be worked out as to whether Justice Josephs name will be sent to the government along with the others. While the government cleared Malhotra's name, it sent Justice Joseph's file back to the Collegium for reconsideration, drawing widespread flak from the legal community as well as the opposition.

The government had on 26 April declined to accept the recommendation of the collegium and asked it to reconsider his name.

Four of the five collegium members were also for the first time informed on Wednesday of a letter written by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to the CJI on April 30 wherein he reiterated the government position that the principle of seniority must be followed in the elevation of judges to the top court.

"I wish to deny with all authority at my command it has nothing to do with it (Justice Joseph's decision) at all for two obvious reasons". Prasad noted that a Bharatiya Janata Party government was elected with a three-fourths majority past year.

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The Supreme Court Collegium on Wednesday deferred its decision on the elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph as an apex court judge. With the Supreme Court facing a large number of vacancies, making it hard for the CJI to constitute adequate number of benches to deal with over 50,000 pending cases, the agenda circulated among the judges appeared to recognise the need for expeditious filling up of seven vacancies in the SC, which would with the retirement of Justice R K Agrawal on Friday increase to eight, by mentioning about fair representation to HCs which have not a single or less than adequate representation in the apex court at present.

Indu Malhotra was sworn in last week.

After putting on hold justice Joseph's elevation, law minister wrote to the CJI that it would "not be fair and justified to other more senior, suitable, and deserving chief justices and senior judges of various high courts".

Justice Joseph's name for elevation to top court was recommended by the collegium at its January 10 meeting.

Many former chief justices, including RM Lodha and TS Thakur, have openly said that the decision of the Centre was wrong and that the collegium should reiterate its decision to elevate Joseph in the interest of the independence of judiciary.

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